|Abstract: ||The book aims at answering the question whether prolonging human life at all costs is morally acceptable. The main aim of the paper was executed over three chapters.
The first chapter presents an empirical context of the issue analysed. This part of the book provides basic data on longevity and ageing processes as well as life-prolonging projects and technologies. Attention was brought to demographic changes being in progress all over the world and the question whether longer life leads to negative effects. It also aimed at identifying the arguments that motivate the human to prolong life. Moreover, it was assumed that the unique character of each human life is expressed in individual and unrepeatable existence of that person who is entitled to an objective value – personal dignity. It was also shown that a human entity exceeds the sphere of purely biological conditions. What is more, it was stated that human life is not an ultimate value, but a fundamental one.
The second chapter discusses two problem areas: the issue of refraining from persistent therapy and the issue of obtaining and using ,,spare parts” for the purpose of prolonging human life. This part of the book asks what the limits of conduct are for a doctor acting to prolong the life of his patients, especially adults suffering from terminal illnesses and premature infants. The analysis executed allowed for a key conclusion that, in a situation when the patient cannot be treated because the therapy is ineffective, only the dying is prolonged, therefore the only rightful decision is to abandon persistent therapy. Such actions were considered morally acceptable. In the second chapter, questions were raised about the conditions that enable prolonging human life by ex vivo transplantation, ex mortuo transplantation, xenotransplantation, artificial elements, and stem cells. The analyses executed led to a conclusion that the life of one should not be prolonged at the cost of infringing the autonomy of others, nor at the cost of exposing others to a serious risk of health breakdown or death, nor at the cost of experimenting (artificial prolongation of life), nor at the cost of destroying human embryos in order to obtain human cells.
The third chapter of the book focuses on biomedical interference exceeding the therapeutic scope – biomedical enhancement. In this part of the book, questions where posed about whether the nature of Homo sapiens species should be enhanced, is it about the enhancement of individuals or the species as a whole, whether human nature is a constans and should not be changed in its structure optimal for the species, or whether it is not an unchanging, metaphysical ,,constant” and as such it is not as ,,untouchable” so not to be interfered with. Also, it attempted to answer the question whether persistent actions aimed at prolonging life by means of biomedical enhancement will destroy what seems invaluable – the unique character of human life. The analyses executed showed that nor the supporters, nor the opponents of biomedical improvement, want to prolong human life at all costs. Both sides in the discussion arrive at the same conclusion but refer to different anthropological and ethical assumptions.|